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Reply to "Which modifying a clause"

I personally think the comma can be used or omitted depending on whether the relative clause is interpreted as non-restrictive or as restrictive:

  • The father got into a physical altercation with the mother, which the child was present for. (The father got into a physical altercation with the mother, and the child was present for it.)
  • The father got into a physical altercation with the mother which the child was present for (There was one particular physical altercation between father and mother that the child was present for.)

Excellent paraphrases, Gustavo. I agree with you that the comma is optional and that its presence or absence has that effect on the meaning of the sentence.

@Jacob B. posted:

If I wanted to change the wording to express escalation, would this be acceptable as a sentential relative?

"The father began yelling at the mother,  which escalated into the father striking the mother."

There, Jacob, it is not the father's beginning to yell at the mother which escalated; rather, it is simply his yelling at the mother. Because "which" refers only to the verb phrase "yelling at the mother," the "which"-clause is not a sentential relative.

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